Neu2-affiliated collaboration will pool expertise to develop preclinical candidates.

Evotec and Merck KGaA inked a collaboration focused on the discovery and development of preclinical candidates against an undisclosed neurological disease. The collaboration comes under the auspices of the German government-funded Neu2 consortium, in which both firms are involved. It will be partially funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Established as part of the German Government’s BioPharma initiative to promote industry-academia partnerships, the Neu2 consortium aims to develop new treatments against multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases. Under terms of the drug discovery deal with Merck, Evotec will provide drug discovery expertise in the areas of in vitro biology, medicinal chemistry and in vitro and in vivo pharmacology.

Evotec has previously received stand-alone funding from the BMBF as part of the Neu2 program. In April the firm was awarded a potentially €1.5 million (about $1.99 million at the time) grant to fund its H3 receptor antagonist through Phase I trials. In November 2009 Evotec received a research grant of up to €2.5 million (about $3.74 million) to fund R&D on serine racemase, a potential target in the field of neuroprotection.

Headed by Bionamics, the Neu2 consortium was established as one of the winners of Germany’s BioPharma Competition launched in 2007. The other two winning initiatives were the Max Planck Drug Discovery & Development Center and the Neuroallianz consortium. The BMBF has pledged to make €100 million in funding available to the three projects through to 2012. In the first round, the teams each received €20 million.

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